“The time to be happy is now.”
“The place to be happy is here.”
“The way to be happy is to make others happy.”
He died young, some thirty years old, and was during his lifetime a general favourite.
Whether he desired, before his death, that these words should be printed on the stone which stood at the head of his grave I cannot say, but it was there that I read them.
I was struck by them. They were novel and peculiar. They were frank and decisive. Moreover, they contain a measure of truth, but only a measure.
For who would deny that “here” and “now” are both the place and time to be happy; or who would question the fact that, in making others really happy lies one of the truest pleasures of life?
But why limit happiness to here and now? Why not hereafter and for ever, too?
Poor young fellow—his here and now were very brief! Thirty summers soon pass away, hardly affording time to reap what you have sown, or to discover your wisdom or your folly. You may say, “Give me a short life and a merry one.”
Why not a long life, and one that is truly merry? Why not a blissful eternity? Why not?
I greatly enjoy meeting a man who is nearing the three score years and ten, and who, looking back over his life, can truthfully say that it has been happy.
Are there very many such?
“The time to be happy is now.” Very well, what is the first element of true happiness? “Oh! the happiness of the man whose sins are forgiven.” (See Psalm 32:1.)
It begins there. Sin may, undoubtedly, have its pleasures, even though they are only “for a season”; then, that season past, the pain follows.
Hence, to be happy now at the expense of for ever is folly and mad improvidence. For one, I would rather have the forgiveness of my sins than the enjoyment of them; and, clearly, the forgiveness and the enjoyment cannot go on together.
To be right with God, all the way through, is to be happy now, and here, and hereafter. To be forgiven, and to seek continually to do the will of God, is the only life which can be described as happy. And he who has tried both can testify as to which is the better.
“Godliness … has promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).
“The place to be happy is here.” Very well; but is “here” the only place?
“The rich man … died [after a happy time], and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:22-23). Then he bewailed a “place of torment.”
Is it not the height of wisdom, while we are in this place, here and now, to have serious regard to that “place of torment” which is the inevitable consequence of our sins and unbelief here?
Remember! “the gulf is fixed.”
Lastly, “the way to be happy is to make others happy.” Very well, but how?
Shall it be by the song, the game, the dance, the glass, the carousal, or how?
Such happiness is folly, or worse, and is very short-lived.
How easy to dance into damnation! I would ten thousand times rather be the humble instrument in God’s hand of leading one sinner from the paths of sin to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal and perfect Saviour than enjoy all the passing pleasures of the world. That is joy indeed.
The question is, Are we to be governed by eternity and God, or by time and the transitory pleasures of sin?